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Jain Biology: Characteristic Features I

Published: 16.10.2009
Updated: 02.07.2015
1. Body

There are five types of bodies -

  1. Audārika—Gross body; it consists of the gross material aggregates belonging to the audārika vargaṇā (i.e., a group of material aggregates which can be perceived through sense-organs). In the mobile organisms, the constituent matter is in the form of flesh, bone, blood, skin etc. In the immobile beings (such as earth, water, fire, air and vegetation), it is made of the inorganic and organic stud
  2. Vaikriya—Protean body; it consists of the subtle material aggregates which can be made to undergo change in form at will. It is a sort of supernatural process. It can be obtained by birth as well as through special spiritual technique.
  3. Āhāraka—Conveyance body; it consists of very subtle material aggregates through which the ascetic who is the possessor of such supernatural power can communicate with the omniscient souls at extra­terrestrial regions.
  4. Taijas—Bio-electrical or Fiery body; it consists of luminous aggregates which are very subtle. It is possessed by all living beings. Through special technique, it can be used as a supernatural power of thermoluminescence and efflugence. In normal course it is used in bio-electrical metabolic processes of life. It accompanies the soul even in transmigration.
  5. Kārmaṇa—Subtlemost body; made of the karmic material aggregates which always accompany the soul even in transmigration.

In the following table, the number of bodies available in the type of living being is given and the serial numbers of the bodies out of the above five bodies which are available in the living being of that type are also mentioned. For example, in the subtle earth-bodies beings, the number of bodies available is three; they are 1—Audārika, 4—Taijas, 5—Kārmaṇa.


The soul-units spread throughout the body, the size of which is mentioned as avagāhanā. It is measured in units such as—

Aṅgula (which is near about 1.66 inches)[1]

1 ratni = 24 aṅgulas

1 dhanuṣya = 94 aṅgulas

1 gavyuti = 2000 dhanuṣya

1 yojana = 4 gavyuti

The minimum and maximum avagāhanā have been given in the table. In case of protean body, two varieties are given—

  1. the avagāhanā of the protean body by birth (bhavadhāraṇiya).
  2. the avagāhanā of the protean body when the protean extension is made in the post-birth life (uttaravaikriya).


There are six types of saṃhanana -

  1. Vajra-ṛṣabha-nārāca
    Saṃhanana stands for bone-strucutre. The word 'vajra' means pin, 'ṛṣabha' means the bandage of the bones, and 'nārāca' indicates inter­locking of bones on both sides. The body in which the inter-locking of the bones and bandage of the bones are cross-tightened is called "vajraṛṣabha-nārāca ".

    Some ācāryas identify the pin with the bone itself.[2]
  2. ṛṣabha-nārāca—Interlocking of bones on one side with half-pin and half-plate or interlocking of bones with pin (ṛṣabha-nārāca),
  3. nārāca—Interlocking of bones on both sides (nārāca),
  4. ardha-nārāca—Interlocking of bone on one side and pin on the other (ardha-nārāca),
  5. kīlikā—Pin between two bones (kīlikā),
  6. śevārta—Two bones bound by skin, sinews and flesh (śevārta). [3] There is no bone, veins and arteries, and sinews in the protean body, so it has been described as devoid of bonejoints.

Configuration refers to the general shape of the body, its symmetry, arrangements of its parts and deformities. There are six types of saṃhanana

  1. Samacaturasra—The most auspicious configuration. Symmetrical body—from all sides.
  2. Nyagrodha-parimandala—Symmetrical body above the navel only.
  3. Sādi—Symmetrical body below the naval only.
  4. Kubja—The limbs of the body such as hands, legs, head etc. are in order, but the chest, back, abdomen etc. are deformed; the hunch-backedness and the like.
  5. Vāmana—The limbs of the body such as chest, back, abdomen are in order, but the hands, legs, head etc. are deformed; the dwarfish and the like.
  6. Huṇḍa—The entire body is asymmetrical and ugly. The configuration of the five immobile living beings is huṇḍa with a typical shape.

Earth-bodied—masuracanda i.e., similar to the shape of the masura - a kind of pulse which is in the shape of moon.


Fire-bodied—sūcikalāpa—shape similar to a bundle of needles.


Vegetation-bodied—aniyata—irregular; varied in forms.


There are four passions—anger, pride, deceit and conceit. Instinctually, they are present even in the most undeveloped forms of living organisms. Only the human beings in higher stages of spiritual practice can become free from them.


There are 10 saṃjñās, but in the present context the major four saṃjñās are taken into account. They are:

  1. Āhāra Saṃjñās - Hunger Instinct
  2. Bhaya Saṃjñās - Fear Instinct
  3. Maithuna Saṃjñās - Sex Instinct
  4. Parigraha Saṃjñās - Instinct of Possessiveness.

All living beings have these instincts by births, except the human beings who can become free from them in higher stages of spiritual practice.


The concept of leśyā is a very special theory of Jain philosophy. According to it, a very special kind of material aggregates get associated with the soul and influence it through their colour, creating psychic colour. I his subtle phenomenon continuously goes on within the soul. The leśyā has two types of effect—malevolent as well as benevolent. The three malevolent leśyās are—(1) black, (2) blue and (3) grey. The three benevolent leśyās are—(4) red, (5) yellow and (6) white. Thus in total there are six types of leśyā. The colour of the aura corresponds with the psychic colour. The colour of the material aggregates responsible for this phenomenon is called dravya leśyā (psychic colour), while the colour of the psyche is psychic colour. All activities (yogā) of mind, speech and body correspond with the psychic colour.

In the following table, the number of leśyā available are given and which leśyā are available are also indicated.


There are five sense-organs—

  1. The sense-organ of touch
  2. The sense-organ of taste
  3. The sense-organ of smell
  4. The sense-organ of sight
  5. The sense-organ of hearing.

The living beings are one-sensed up to five-sensed, being possessed of respectively the above-mentioned sense-organs. Thus one-sensed beings have only one sense, viz., touch and so on.


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Edited by:
Prof. Muni Mahendra Kumar

Ladnun-341 306 (Rajasthan, India)

First Edition: 2008 Printed at: Shree Vardhman Press, Naveen Shahdara, Delhi- 110032

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aura
  2. Avagāhanā
  3. Aṅgula
  4. Body
  5. Conceit
  6. Deceit
  7. Dravya
  8. Dravya Leśyā
  9. Fear
  10. Indriya
  11. Jain Philosophy
  12. Leśyā
  13. Muni
  14. Nārāca Saṃhanana
  15. Omniscient
  16. Parigraha
  17. Pride
  18. Protean Body
  19. Soul
  20. Space
  21. Sādi
  22. Uttaravaikriya
  23. Vargaṇā
  24. Āhāra
  25. Āhāraka
  26. ācāryas
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